create a character | MVARTZ style

7 Easy steps to create a character yourself in the MVARTZ style

Upon till now, I did design three mvartz characters in Blender. And some of you have been asking how to create a character of yourselves. Well In 7 overarching steps I’ll show you what the process is. 

The design is fairly simplistic, yet dressed up everything turns out quite cute. I think it is the contrast of simplicity and the added detail that makes it appealing, like a kid dressing up as a grown-up. You can’t help but adore them.

In this video, I’ll show you in 7 overarching steps what the process is to create a character in the mvartz style. In this post, I will share some character design principles that complement the video.

Determine the shape language

The theory of shape language is used in art, character design, and 3d animation to express intent. This is all based on shapes we are all too familiar with. 

When used in character design shapes express personality. Which in itself helps propel the story, either making the character appealing and relatable or causing conflict with our own motives and beliefs. Provoking emotional response in the viewer without using any words.

All character designs can be broken down into a primitive shapes or depending on the complexity and realism, a combination of primitive shapes. 

Mitch Leeuwe Shape Language
© Art by Mitch Leeuw

Let’s see what these shapes are saying.

Squares or boxes if you are a 3d artist are widely associated with feelings like strength, stability, and balanced.
On the flip side, a character that is created largely from squares can come across as daunting, stubborn, or sometimes clumsy. Wreck-it-Ralph is an example of a squarish design.

Circles and spheres seem to be largely associated with feelings of appeal and cuteness. Characters can look innocent and soft. Nonthreatening characters like Fit-it-Felix from Wreck-it ralph.

Triangles or pyramids convey movement and action. A crucial factor in this is the direction in which the point is facing.
A lot of evil characters, like classic villains as Hades, have triangular-shaped faces, pointing down.

Most important in choosing a shape is the role of the character in his or some else’s story. What did the experience in life that formed their personality? 

Now, I’m not encouraging you to judge people by their shapes and forms in your day-to-day life of course. 
Artists use this knowledge to emphasize character traits in their stylized character designs.

We are all beautiful the way we are.

Measure your stylized proportions

Create a Character MVARTZ style | Proportions
©Scott Official Mascotte

Proportion describes how the sizes of different parts of a piece of art or design relate to each other.

How proportion is used will affect how realistic or stylized your design is perceived. In our case, the mvartz style is heavily stylized.

The proportions will transform how pleasing your character looks and can be used to direct attention to appropriate sections. Caricature relies on emphasizing those parts which are characteristic of your character design.  Usually, these are the elements that make a character distinct.

Life drawing and realism are based on the understanding of correct anatomy and proportions. The use of proportion is essential for creating accurate images.
We all heard of the uncanny valley, the area where something is so close to realism, yet some minor things aren’t right to the insanely trained human eye. 
It can feel like the more you approach realism the better people get at spotting the flaws.

Almost all artists work with construction layers as a base for their design. To ensure they follow the correct proportions according to their art style.

The mvartz proportions are very unconventional. The body/head is several times the length of the limbs. Download this image if you have to.

Adding the limbs

After you chose your body shape, hopefully matching the personality you want to display, we can model the extremities.

Use the proportions and your artist intuition to scale and beef up the limbs where necessary.

The hand of these characters I would describe as mittens. A group of ‘fingers’ and an opposing thumb. 

On a technical level, I like to use low poly modeling, so usually, I’ll extrude from an inset of 4 polygons. That is 8 vertices to create a circular loop.

The designs I made so far weren’t very muscular, but I’m interested to see how you would incorporate that in a style like this. I’ve got my ideas, but feel free to share your work with me on Instagram or Twitter.

Design attributes

I keep hammering on this point because it is the most important thing in any art form if you ask me. Let the story drive your character design.

With that in mind aks yourself what makes your character unique? Is he an artist like you and me? Does he have to fight, and why? Ask yourself lots of questions. 

Restrictions are the place where creativity comes from. You see, if everything was possible, you default to know methods. That’s why lots of aliens are always portrayed the same in movies. They are designed with our life experience and human perception in mind.

You can’t rely on the same designs if your character’s race evolved from an underwater colony of translucent fish. That now traveled to our planet, they’re bound the be different in ways beyond our comprehension.

That’s why restrictions might create an opening for a new and fresh design.

It isn’t until you ask yourself questions that you find unique solutions. This is more a piece of overall advice than specifically for this mvartz style. 

It is good practice to do think for a second even on small-scale design choices.

Dress up your model

When it comes to this modeling style, choose the type of clothing you feel most comfortable wearing.

Detective Scott | MVARTZ
©Detective Scott | MVARTZ

“It’s the clothes that make the man”

Detective Scott

In general, I’ll advise you to, again, keep asking questions about your character. You have to gather as much information as possible. 

What does this character like to do? Is he a sporty guy? Is she a workaholic? Are the up to date with current trends? They might be emotionally incapable of grooming themselves.

You might be best friends with someone and love the same things, but still, dress completely different. Culture, religion, family status, heritage the list goes on, all these factors could restrict your design choices, however, when combined with other unique character restrictions you’ll find that you’re character comes to live in a very unique way.

Slap on a cute face

On Youtube, you can find my playlist on creating 2d faces in Blender. 

Where we create an alternative 2D face rig for character animation that is mesh-based. We create meshes to add a mouth and eye’s to the face. Then we create a rig to give the animator some animator-friendly controls to use.

Don’t they always say we are drawn the most towards the face?
The face has 42 individual muscles to work with. No wonder it’s the most expressive part of the human body. Combined with body language, expressions are a good way to get a sample of what someone is feeling. 

So naturally, we’re drawn to the eyes in a stylized character as well. 

I made a selection of mouth and eye shapes. The ones I mostly use are rigged for my characters, but feel free to experiment with designs of your own.  

Grow some hair 

Believe it or not, but each face shape has an ideal hairline type. 
If you ever tried creating hair for a character, you know how drastically the face changes even with the slightest tweaks to the hairline.

The hairline frames the face, which means that some parts are obscured or revealed either on purpose or by accident.

Acatcie - 2D tot 3D model - MV.ARTZ

Character designs with squarelike faces could soften the appearance of their sharp features without further elongating the face. You could give the character, some soft layered hair that would enhance cheekbones while disguising the sharpness of the jaw. 

Has your character an oval face shape, you can’t complain. Oval faces work with a wide variety of hairstyles, their well-balanced appearance is to credit for that. 

Closely related are the round face shapes. However similar, typically their features are similar in length and width. Usually, these characters have prominent, rounded cheeks. Therefore, the most flattering hairstyles for them are those that add definition and shape. This means, adding interest to the silhouette of the character design.

With triangle-shaped faces, we have to consider the direction in which the point is facing. In such face types, it is important to minimize the bottom-heavy or top-heavy appearance of the face.
The key to an appealing hairstyle for this type is one that will balance out the face. Compensate for the lack of volume in the silhouette. 

These are not rules but simply some examples of what is considered appealing.

The things you learn while studying art, never cease to amaze me.

I hope you found this helpful in any way. As always stay creative and till next time,